THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I have seen this novel a couple of times at my favorite secondhand
bookstore, but what finally made me buy a copy were the recommendations
from members of The Historical Fiction Group at Shelfari.
to rebuild their lives after the Second World War, writer Juliet Ashton
receives a letter from farmer Dawsey Adams, who lives on the island of
Guernsey in the English Channel, asking her to recommend a book seller
who would send him Charles Lamb's works. Thus begins the correspondence
between Juliet and the other members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato
Peel Society, and other characters that inhabit Juliet's life in London
and Dawsey's life in Guernsey.
I finished the book in an
afternoon, stopping near the end for a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich (I
dislike cucumbers) to savor the book longer. I was charmed by Guernsey
and its people. Each character's personality comes across in the letters
he or she writes, making me mourn the disappearing art of
letter-writing in this age of the internet. I especially empathize with
Juliet, who at the age of 32 has mostly resigned herself to living a
solitary life with her writing and her books, breaking off her
engagement with a man who would dare empty her bookshelves and pack her
books in boxes.
The story wanders, although Juliet remains the
center, but that's how life happens; one can't impose order on it.
Still, the novel affirms the fact that sometimes it is not the book that
matters, but the company of people who enjoy books and reading as much
as one does.